I am honored to be part of this august gathering here in Beijing, at the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation. It was my first experience of seeing President Xi Jinping in person, and I was thrilled to listen to his speech. I want to thank him for his outstanding leadership and his idea of bringing nations together through his innovative Belt and Road Initiative. More to the point, I am convinced of his sincerity and his dedication to bringing prosperity and peace around the world by revitalizing the ancient Silk Road. The opportunities offered by the initiative are even more evident in these difficult times. The Belt and Road represents a solution for building better cultural and business relationships between countries around the world, especially in the Asia Pacific region.
The President's words on mutual respect, shared prosperity, openness, social justice and trust, have convinced me of his genuine desire to build a better future for this world. He is well aware that the task needs colossal effort and cannot be done alone. The President has called for greater cooperation between countries, letting minor differences melt away.
Fundamental elements in international cooperation are trust and respect. World United Cities and Local Government (UCLG) have championed the task of fostering cooperation between local governments at a global level, as we are close to our constituencies and our communities.
I used this occasion to sign a cooperation agreement with our Chinese counterpart, and also to unveil the newly established committees initiated by our Chinese members. UCLG-ASPAC Committee on Belt and Road Local Cooperation and the 21st-Century Maritime Cooperation Committee were formed by Huangzhou and Fuzhou, respectively. These two are under the auspices of UCLG-ASPAC, the largest section of UCLG, and in close coordination with the Chinese People’s Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries.
Through both Committees, further cooperation amongst cities and local governments along the Belt and Road will be strengthened. Although it is a huge undertaking, we will make this vision a reality. We will facilitate and add value in exchanges and invest in human resources, local equipment, good leadership, and people-to-people exchanges at a local level, with concrete actions. Areas that need particular attention are mobility, safe public spaces, gender equality, and local economic development.
UCLG-ASPAC has also launched a new publication - "One Belt, One Road" - that is dedicated to the exchange of innovation and best practices in urban development, trade, cultural renaissance and green living in countries along the silk route. The publication is designed to become a knowledge-sharing tool for fostering better relations among the countries. I am confident that it will certainly help people across the world.
As President Xi mentioned, we must all be optimistic. A journey is not always a straight path. But I believe that if we go together, the journey will be an easy one.
I hope that the Silk Road, which goes back over 2,000 years and has helped build stable and prosperous regions, can be revived today in our generation.
As our ancestors and great explorers have done before us, we too can shape the future of the next generation with our passion, dedication and collaborative efforts.